Trying again for study on N.J. college costs

New Jersey lawmakers are trying again to establish a commission to look into the affordability of attending college.

The state Senate’s Higher Education Committee advanced the measure Thursday after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar bill earlier this month.

An informal commission is already examining ways to reduce college costs, said New Jersey Higher Education Secretary Rochelle Hendricks.

“We’re looking at a range of programs that exist around the country,” she said. “We’re also looking quite honestly at financial models that are most effective not only elsewhere but here in the state of New Jersey.”

That’s not enough, according to Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean.

“Though the commissioner is working on it, this is high priority, something we need to be working on together,” he said. “And I think a separate commission … will do the work we need to see done.”

Singer and other supporters say the commission would ensure students and faculty have input on what should be done to control college costs.

When he vetoed the bill, Christie said it wasn’t necessary.

Dan O’Connor, a Rutgers professor and president of the New Jersey Conference of the American Association of University Professors, disagreed.

“Affordability, I can assure you is not being addressed. Tuition continues to go up. I had a student in my office yesterday, a … senior almost at the verge of tears. He’s working several jobs. He can’t do the course,” O’Connor said. “Affordability is a true issue for him.”

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